The Milwaukee Bucks can’t afford to play Grayson Allen in Game 7

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 13: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 13: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

In a series as close as the one that the Milwaukee Bucks are in with the Boston Celtics, or in any playoff series really, there’s never one person who can take all of the blame for losses (or wins!) but there are definitely guys who can take more blame than others.

I said this heading into Game 5 but Grayson Allen can’t play in this series and we’ve been seeing it in the last few games. It came to a head in Game 6 with a tough game at both ends and going into a do-or-die Game 7, Allen might not see the floor much in TD Garden.

Why Grayson Allen shouldn’t play in Game 7 for the Milwaukee Bucks

I’ve been pretty hard on Allen in this series after he had a great few games against the Chicago Bulls, but I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. He can’t play in this series. Obviously, we can’t assume or know that he’s going to go 1-of-7 in this game and miss all of his 3s but even if he went 2-of-4 from deep and 5-of-7 overall, it wouldn’t change my mind.

Plus/minus isn’t the end-all, be-all for how a player performed in a single game but when you’re a minus-29 (and minus-24 in the first half) it’s telling that you had a rough night. I’d say the same for Brook Lopez, who was minus-22, but I have more faith that he can tread water in this series for 15-to-20 minutes.

Allen has been getting hunted on defense every time he’s out there.

He’s an athletic guard but he’s too small to guard guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He’s not strong enough to check Marcus Smart.

Those three guys are shooting a combined 19-of-33 when defended by Allen with four shooting fouls. Milwaukee has a 114.1 defensive rating with Allen on the floor which is just outside of the bottom 10 worst individual defensive ratings among players who have an average of 15 minutes a night in the second round of the playoffs.

Allen, Lopez, and George Hill all have net ratings of minus-15 or worse in the second round.

Two of those guys will play (in Hill’s case, much to the chagrin of Bucks fans), but they can’t afford to have all of them and Allen is the most expendable considering they have someone (Pat Connaughton) who does everything that Allen does but at a higher level.

Even bringing Jevon Carter back into the rotation would make more sense than having Allen out there. When Carter has played in these playoffs, the Bucks have dominated his minutes. As I said with Hill all year if you’re winning his minutes, who cares! Keep playing him!

Back to Allen, though. Head coach Mike Budenholzer was asked about Allen’s struggles in this series after Game 6 and, as you’d expect, he gave a very diplomatic answer.

I understand why Allen is in the lineup and the Celtics absolutely still respect his shooting ability. They’re running him off the line and aren’t helping off of him a ton so it creates space for Antetokounmpo. It just isn’t enough to make up for the defensive shortcomings.

But what Budenholzer didn’t say in his words, he said with his actions. Allen played less than eight minutes in the second half as he and Lopez were stapled to the bench while the Bucks attempted to come back in the fourth.

Perhaps Budenholzer has finally seen enough and will make the change for Game 7. I’m still expecting to see him start the game but it will be interesting to see how many minutes Budeholzer plays Allen in the do-or-die game. They can’t have another game where he’s a clear negative and they hemorrhage points while the Celtics hunt him.

There will be series where Allen is more valuable, such as a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Miami Heat, but it’s not this one. Hopefully, it’s not too late.

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The Milwaukee Bucks will try to keep their season alive in Game 7 tomorrow night at TD Garden.